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    6 lbs of roma tomatoes in a day!

    Just harvested 6 pounds of roma tomatoes. I guess we have to can them today before we leave on our vacation.

    We had just canned a batch of roma tomatoes last week.  Given the fact that both my wife and I were busy the last 2 weeks with work and lacked any canning skills we decided to do a quick and dirty trial canning of some roma tomatoes.

    We didn’t have the canning kit but did have some mason jar and new set of lids. So we par boiled the tomatoes, peeled the skin, washed the bottles in boiling water, and added a table soon of lime juice to the bottle and added the tomatoes in. Instead of doing the regular canning, we vacuum sealed it using a FoodSaver with a mason jar sealer. We sealed 3 jars in all. Kept 2 in the refrigerator and 1 outside as a test sample to see if this kind of canning works. It’s been a week and the jar outside looks good so far.


    Planting Guide for Tote SIPs

    Through trial and error and through reading various blogs and forums I put together a planting guide for most of the plants I have been growing in my 18 gallon tote box. The picture below shows the detail.

    There's one learning over the past 2 years I learned when following the sequence below. Say you planted, 4 cabbages in 2 rows, and due to some reason, a few of them die. Just let it be and don't try to fill the spots with other plants. I once replaced zucchinis that died with bell peppers. The zucchinis that survived over powered the peppers completely. Did the same when a few cucumbers died in the frost in April this year and I replaced them with zucchinis. The surviving cucumbers just ran over the zucchinis. The zucchines yield was very poor.



    Surviving the odds against heat and pests

    As far as the plants go, this summer has been a story of resilience. The 100°+ temperatures, lack of rain, and the occasional bring-down-the-trees-thunderstorm has taken its toll on many gardens.

    In my case, the cherry tomatoes couldn’t take the heat. They have stopped flowering now, the leaves have turned yellow and the fruits have begun to crack due to the temperature swings.

    Twice a chipmunk attacked the cabbages. Apparently, the chipmunk prefers to eat a fresh cabbage every time and not return to the half eaten one he left behind earlier. Can’t do much about the chipmunk he’s under total protection of my daughter. ;)

    Then the beetles decided to take over the cucumber plant and establish their domain. The first signs were the leaves began to rot and the cucumbers turned yellow due to insect infestation. But it was nothing some organic pesticides couldn’t fix. They are back up now and hopefully will be more fruitful this season.

    Despite all this, the cucumber yield has not stopped. In all I have about 4 cucumber plants and they have all been very productive.

    The 7 green pepper plants have been tough in the face of all adversity. They have been very productive, on par with the eggplants. They are sweet and really make some good tempura.

    Two eggplants perform like a factory. There’s something to harvest every other day.

    The swiss chards survived the horrible thunderstorm and are back in full bloom.

    The roma tomatoes were late bloomers but now they are full of fruits, but they have stopped flowering due to the heat. They should deliver on the 25 lbs per box expectation.


    Don't ignore the Zucchini!

    Given the heat, the plants these days need watering twice a day. That's about 4-5 gallons each container, twice a day. The cucumbers are the first to signs shows of wilting if they are not watered twice a day. Given this regimen, and the heat, I quickly water the plants and get indoors.

    This morning, it was cool and I had some time to spend tending to the garden. I took a look at the zucchini plant and was gob smacked by what I saw. I had forgotten to check the zucchini for a while and the zucchini had taken the opportunity to grow crazy.

    I finally harvested the zucchini this morning. It measured little over 1 feet and weighed in at 3 lbs! I hope it is not full of seeds as is bound to happen when zucchinis are harvested late or mature a bit.


    Cherry Tomatoes up for grabs

    The heat was also taking its toll on the cherry tomatoes. They were starting to split due to the heat. So we decided to pick the entire vine ripe ones. In all 4.6lbs! A record pick of tomatoes.